LaFayette, Ga. Bond was set Thursday for jailed crematory operator Brent Marsh, who made his first public comments since investigators found hundreds of discarded corpses on his property five months ago.
Cobb County Superior Court Judge James G. Bodiford set bond at $159,200 for Marsh, who said he was aware of the hostility he would have to face if he were returned to the community while awaiting a trial.
"We live in the South and I'm a black man," Marsh said. "A lot of people don't like me because I am me."
In February, more than 340 human remains were found on the grounds of the Marsh family's Tri-State Crematory at Noble, a small, northern Georgia town near the Tennessee border. Bodies were found in the woods, stacked in storage buildings, stuffed in burial vaults and buried in pits. So far, 167 bodies have been identified. Most were of white people.
Marsh is charged with 398 felony counts, including theft by deception and abuse of a body, for allegedly accepting money and never performing the cremations.
Marsh, who has been jailed since mid-February, was denied bond three times previously.
Walker County Sheriff Steve Wilson testified that releasing Marsh could put him and innocent bystanders in danger from lingering community hostility.
Lisa Cash of East Ridge, Tenn., whose mother's body was among those recovered at the crematory, said Marsh had hurt hundreds of families.
"How can he sit up there and tell the judge he is not hurting anybody?" Cash said.
Dozens of Tennessee residents have sued Marsh and funeral homes. Records show Tennessee funeral directors sent at least 257 bodies to Tri-State since 1999. Georgia and Alabama funeral homes also contracted with Marsh.
Marsh took over the crematory in 1996 from his parents, Ray and Clara Marsh.